I Blame The Kardashians For Everything

Examining the celebrity obsession.

Thoughts | Garrett Olson

I like to imagine it was a cold and hellish day on that fateful October 14 in 2007. when America first tuned in to watch the subsequent beginning to the end of us. Keeping Up With The Kardashians was a revolution to reality TV, and people loved it. The world soon became obsessed with watching the spoiled antics of the rich and famous on a weekly basis, and it is now entering its 13th season - yes, 13 seasons. Now before you become completely disengaged because “it's your guilty pleasure,” just hear me out. America voted in a reality TV star to run the country. If that isn’t a wake-up call to reevaluate our relationship with the world around us, I don’t know what is.

There has always been a fascination with celebrities and diving into their private lives, which was normally covered in magazines like People or US Weekly, but now we are starting to get the crossover to legitimate publications. Last week I grabbed my phone and scrolled over to the trending news section on my iPhone, and to my horror, The Globe and Mail had posted an article in which Jaden Smith was blaming the Four Seasons Toronto for “spiking his pancakes with cheese.” Okay, can we just take a minute to process this? The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s most prestigious and historic publications, felt the need to publish that article, and the worst part is it was a trending news story that day.

I know what you’re thinking, “How does this tie into the Kardashians?” It all has to do with the way in which we allocate our attention; fame for the sake of being famous has distorted the way we acknowledge success. People doing great things in the world aren’t receiving the same attention as one of the Kardashians eating ice cream today, and that's alarming. Earlier this year I worked at a popular restaurant in the entertainment district of Toronto on a day Kim Kardashian decided to roll up. It was chaos. People actually screamed and left their tables to run outside and take photos of the blacked out SUV. She had her staff come and grab food for her, but it was shocking to see how people actually bowed down to her.  

Fast forward a few months and you get a guy like Trump who has singlehandedly discredited reporters and news institutions with a Twitter account and a loud mouth. We let this happen. We lost touch with the standards that garner our attention. Keeping Up with the Kardashians isn’t solely to blame for this, but they were on the forefront of this shift in the culture surrounding the issue. Maybe our guilty pleasures should have a little more guilt.

Image credit: Lachlan Bailey for Vogue Australia